I’m going to “waiter
” on Alan’s last post for a bit while I revisit Alan’s claim check
. I think I’ve managed to put my finger on the disconnect we had regarding what we each are trying to prove. I might summarize his apparent argument as:
a. The Bible is not trustworthy
b. Christians are often evil and deceived
c. Thus, Christianity is wrong
So, is Alan’s argument valid? Is it true? [Read more] for my surprising answer…
While Alan might fear I’ve set him up with an unfair strawman, my answer to the above questions is actually “yes” — with a caveat. Specifically, I would agree that the above argument is in fact:
a. True — for sufficiently precise definitions of “Bible”, “trustworthy”, “Christians”, “often”, “evil”, “Christianity”, and “wrong.”
— for sufficiently strong assumptions regarding ethics, epistemics, ontology, and psychology.
In other words, I don’t have any particular interest in disputing his various facts, or even the overall structure of his argument. Rather, I am asserting that:
a. If he defines his terms precisely enough so that the argument is true, I can construct a different yet meaningful (and orthodox) definition of Christianity which avoids that critique
b. If he articulates sufficiently strong presuppositions to validate his argument, I can demonstrate that my presuppositions are superior to his in explanatory power
That is, I am basically saying that the definitions he needs to justify this are precise, but not accurate; and his assumptions would be strong, but not robust.
To be sure, I am merely asserting that I “can” do that, not that I have or that he has any reason to believe me at this point. I just want to make sure we are fighting about the right thing, and the same thing — in the most civilized sense of the term ‘fight’, of course :-). That is, if either:
a. I am not able to come up with a definition of Christianity that simultaneously avoids his critique and is compatible with orthodoxy
b. He can
articulate presuppositions that are at least as reasonable and comprehensive as mine, as measured against our common epistemic
Then I would have to admit defeat. That doesn’t mean I’d agree he’s right, but I would at least concede that his position is better justified than mine.
Conversely, if I succeeded on both counts, he would be the one to concede.